Go Back
+ servings
Hotel makhani gravy in a bowl from above - closeup
Print Recipe
4.94 from 15 votes

makhani gravy - hotel style

This is how they make that butter chicken you've always wanted to recreate.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Course: ingredient
Cuisine: Indian
Keyword: makhani gravy
Servings: 3 cups
Calories: 700kcal
Author: romain | glebekitchen


Step one ingredients

  • 28 oz tomatoes - canned. Make sure there are no other flavours (basil etc). Just tomatoes, juices and salt.
  • 2 tsp kashmiri chili powder - less if you want a milder gravy
  • 1 tsp kosher salt 2/3 tsp table salt
  • 1 small tej patta - Indian bay leaf
  • 1 black cardamom whole. A small one. I hear people talk about monster black cardamom that are an inch long. I'm talking 1/2 inch here.
  • 4 peppercorns
  • 1 inch cassia stick
  • 1 tbsp garlic ginger paste
  • 1 green chili = jwala aka finger hot, cut in half lengthwise and seeded
  • 3 tbsp neutral oil - vegetable, canola etc
  • 1/2 cup whole cashews - optional. 1/2 cup is an approximate measure. Depends how much space there is between cashews. 80 grams is what I actually use.

Step two ingredients

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tbsp butter


Step one

  • Put your tomatoes and the juices in the can through a food mill. If you don't have a foodmill try crushing them with your hands. The goal is to get rid of the stem of each tomato and to get things pretty smushed up. Smushed is a highly technical cooking term. It means smushed. They don't have to be completely pureed. Everything winds up in a blender later on.
  • If you don't want to smush, you can try cutting the cores out with a small knife and chopping the tomatoes. I've even heard a potato ricer works although I've never tried that myself.
  • Heat the oil in a saucepan large enough to hold all the ingredients over medium low heat.
  • Add the whole spices and let them crackle for about a minute. You want to see little bubbles forming around the spices.
  • Add the garlic ginger paste and cook until it stops sputtering. This should take under a minute.
  • Add the kashmiri chili and salt. Stir to combine and gently fry the chili powder/salt for 30-45 seconds. This is called blooming spices. It's important. Don't skip this step.
  • Add the crushed tomatoes, the green chili and the cashews if using them. Bring to a simmer, cover loosely and cook for about 45 minutes.
  • Let cool slightly and puree until smooth (whole spices and all) in a blender. Your blender can handle the whole spices. Don't worry.
  • At this point you can stop and portion your makhani gravy. Technically it's not a makhani gravy at this point. It is a tomato masala. And that's a useful thing for other recipes. That's what I do. Portion it out in one cup (for butter chicken, dal makhani) or half cup portions (rajma, chicken tikka masala, bhuna etc) and freeze it.
    I turn it into makhani gravy when I cook the actual final curries. You can approach it either way. I just like the effect of fresh cream and butter on the final dish. If you do go the distance then just add a little extra cream and butter to taste when you make your curries.

Step two

  • If you prefer to make the complete makhani gravy up front return the pureed gravy to the saucepan. Bring to a bare simmer. Remove from heat. Mix in your butter and cream.
  • Done. Portion out as above or use immediately.


If you skipped straight to the recipe the cashews aren't really optional. I'm allergic to cashews. I tested this recipe with cashews and it's way better with them. Not even close really. If you can eat cashews don't leave them out. 


Serving: 1cup | Calories: 700kcal | Carbohydrates: 54g | Protein: 15g | Fat: 52g | Saturated Fat: 19g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 84mg | Sodium: 1024mg | Potassium: 2931mg | Fiber: 16g | Sugar: 32g | Vitamin A: 10892IU | Vitamin C: 160mg | Calcium: 160mg | Iron: 5mg